How Small Businesses Can Compete With Big Names in Marketing

Even if your business is small, you can still be heard among your competition

Happy African American waitress holding an open sign at a restaurant and looking at the camera smiling

When advising new businesses, I often remind them of the challenges they’re about to come up against. We like to recall the exploits of entrepreneurs after they have been successful, but that shouldn’t fool you into thinking the market loves new businesses. It doesn’t. After all, who wants more competition?

Startups should never wait to be invited in. Instead, they must force themselves into the market by making noise, which isn’t always easy with few initial connections and even fewer resources.

From my experience starting businesses, there are five ways you can be small, but still be heard:

1. Get in front of the customer. We can all sit behind a computer and tweet out to a crowded space saying, “Look at me.” But the greatest battle facing any business today is getting the customer’s attention, the market’s most valuable commodity. To get your customer’s attention, you have to be in front of them. Nearly all of my businesses have arranged events and groups just out of the basic drive to be in front of the customer. These included product launches—a way to generate some immediate energy and word-of-mouth excitement around a product just ahead of launch—to focus groups, where we would invite a group of targeted customers into the office and ask for their opinion on particular products. My publishing company, Legend Press, also launched Legend 100 at the end of last year: a group of customers who receive advance copies of books in exchange for posting reviews online.

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Lindsay Tanne is co-founder and COO of LogicPrep, an education company that helps families navigate the college admissions landscape.

BusinessCollective, launched in partnership with Citi, is a virtual mentorship program powered by North America’s most ambitious young thought leaders, entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners.

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